Broadcast journalism became possible when the radio was invented. But the power of broadcasting was not fully understood until World War II and the Cold War. Even before the United States entered the war in 1941, journalists broadcast radio news reports about the war in Europe. World War II had an immediacy beyond anything ever known. And when television was added to radio in the following the war, journalists like Edward R. Murrow, Fred Friendly, and many others reinvented reporting.
With the 1960s, every major event was covered on radio and television. When President John F. Kennedy was assassinated many recall how Walter Cronkite talked a nation through its grief and shock. The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights struggle, the peace movement, and the moon landings would never have had the impact they did without the power of broadcasting.
Those, however, may be remembered as the golden years. While broadcast news organizations have multiplied and news has grown more and more immediate, many critics have raised questions about the overall quality of reporting. And the economics that made broadcast journalism possible began to change when the Internet and cable television began offering more and more ways to obtain information.